Maine’s photographic community is mourning the death of Madeleine de Sinety, just days before her first solo exhibition in the United States is scheduled to close at the Portland Museum of Art.

De Sinety, who lived the last 30 years of her life in Rangeley, died Dec. 22 after a two-decades-long battle with breast cancer. She was 76. Her funeral was held Thursday in Rangeley.

The Portland Museum of Art has featured her work since the fall. The exhibition, part of the museum’s ongoing “Circa” series focusing on contemporary art, will close on Saturday. The Portland show is de Sinety’s first solo exhibition in the United States.

“We hope that people pay tribute to Madeleine by coming in to see the exhibition,” said Kristen Levesque, the museum’s marketing director. “There’s no better way to pay tribute to an artist than to see their work. She was an amazing artist and woman, and we are saddened by her death.”

William Wegman, an internationally known photographer of dogs and a close friend of de Sinety and her family, called her “an amazing woman” with “this colossal and chaotic energy about her.”

Wegman, who also has a home in Rangeley, attributed de Sinety’s success as a photographer to her quiet presence and exuberance. She worked hard but stayed out of the way of her subjects, so she could work without becoming a distraction.

In a Facebook post, Maine photographer Tanja Hollander urged her friends to see the Portland show before it closes. She called de Sinety “an inspiration to us lady photographers. I am very saddened to hear this news.”

De Sinety was born in France, and grew up on a chateau and plantation. She lived and worked in Paris as a young woman, and came to the United States in 1980 after marrying Daniel Behrman, a writer and journalist.

She specialized in photographing working-class people in their homes and work environments. The Portland show features mostly black-and-white photos from rural France, Uganda and western Maine.

“I am interested in people who live simple lives on small pieces of land,” she told The Portland Press Herald this fall.

Mark Bessire, director of the Portland Museum of Art, called de Sinety a “true artist her entire life. It was wonderful to see her soak in her exhibition at the museum and to get the recognition she deserves. She paid no attention to trends, and her art is timeless. We will miss her dearly.”

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